6-1 defeat of surprise semi-finalist Marco Cecchinato ended that miserable streak, and Thiem, who has already beaten Nadal on clay this season, could now face the defending champion in the tournament decider. "Because if you stay behind the baseline against Dominic, he can take advantage of it", Toni Nadal said.
"But for me, I believe that there are limited chances in your career".
He added: "I want to work more to go top 20".
It was hard not to feel sympathy for Thiem, playing in his first grand slam final against a man who simply does not lose this particular battle.
"It is nearly impossible to beat Rafa", said Del Potro who had his chances in the semi-final but failed to convert any of his seven break points before his challenge petered out into tired hopelessness.
For Toni Nadal, who stopped coaching his nephew at the end of last season, the experience wasn't that different.
With his strong clay court play as of late, Nadal is not necessarily walking into this match the clearcut favorite.
This was not the case during the first two tight sets between the Thiem and Cecchinato.
The dominant Spaniard, who has never failed to win the title when reaching the last four at Roland Garros, rampaged his way through the next, building a 5-0 lead, before Del Potro raised his arms in celebration after managing a hold to avoid the dreaded bagel.
That was swatted away with Nadal's double-handed backhand, though, and the second set duly went the way of the favourite. After the rain interruption, Nadal leveled and was leading 5-3 and serving at 30-30 when play was suspended for the day.
One of those victories came against Thiem in last year's semi-final and was, if anything, more comprehensive than this one.More news: Verstappen returns to the podium in Canada
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"Otherwise, it's not a very nice feeling".
The seventh seed lost to Nadal at the semi-final stage in the French capital a year ago however and will be in uncharted territory when he plays the defending champion.
"The second-set tiebreak was the big key to the match, 100 per cent, because obviously he felt all the matches from these two weeks after that", the seventh seed said.
The tournament is unlikely to make up much ground on its rival Slams in the coming years as its organisers, the French Tennis Federation (FFT), focus on financing a modernisation project which includes a new centre court with a retractable roof.
They tried their best to rouse their man in the third set but it was mission impossible as Nadal, clubbing the ball as if his life depended on it, finished like a raging bull as he headed into his 24th Grand Slam final.
"But I have a plan".
Too good for almost everyone, nearly every time, on clay.
Increasingly frustrated at Cecchinato's resistance, Thiem lost his composure completely in the second set.
French Open runner-up Dominic Thiem says Rafael Nadal's feat of winning 11 titles at Roland Garros is one of the most awesome achievements in sports.
"Today‚ all day‚ on Philippe Chatrier‚ the fans said "Forza‚ Marco"‚ so I think this is the best moment for me‚" said Cecchinato.